4 Worst Things to Do While Taking Heat From a Pit Boss
Taking occasional heat is a standard part of the trade for any card counter or advantage player. Here are a few things you shouldn’t do when the heat comes on.
Each and every card counter has felt it at some point. While we train tirelessly to count discreetly, we can’t avoid it all the time. Casino staff members, especially pit bosses, aren’t dumb. What am I talking about? The heat, of course.
If you regularly use a card counting system, once in a while (hopefully less often than not) the pit boss will start getting into your business. This may mean giving you a hard stare, directing the dealer to reshuffle, or even asking you to flat bat.
While this situation is obviously not ideal, it isn’t fatal either. The most important thing is to keep a low profile and be careful not to provoke the boss into turning up the heat. Here’s what you shouldn’t do:
When the pit boss stares you down, his intention is to gauge your reaction. If you act like an ordinary basic blackjack strategy player you’ll act cool and innocent, because you’re cool and innocent.
If you act nervous, obviously unhappy about the pit boss providing the unwelcome attention, it’s a dead giveaway that you’re counting. Specific behaviors include avoiding eye contact with the boss, looking over your shoulder repeatedly and behaving in a distracted manner toward the dealer or other players.
If the boss comes over for a chat, engage him like any person would. Make a few comments about the casino, ask for a comp, in general behave like an ordinary casino patron. Remember, you aren’t counting, so there is no reason to act suspicious.
Refuse a VIP card
A VIP card allows the casino to record your personal details and track your betting behavior with the purpose of judging whether or not they should offer you comps. Most serious gamblers get one, specifically because they want to get comps.
So if you are sitting at the blackjack table and betting pretty large amounts, its natural that a floor manager or pit boss will come over and ask if you want to sign up for a VIP card. In fact, its no indication that they suspect you of counting.
Some counters are wary of signing up for a card precisely because it allows the casino to record their details and monitor their betting behavior. The feeling goes, if you are a counter, such a card increases your chances of being found out. So some refuse.
Refusing a card is of course no crime. Maybe you’re just in town for the evening and don’t plan on returning to that specific casino. But if the boss already suspects you of counting, refusing a VIP card is likely to confirm his suspicions, or at least lead to increased scrutiny.
Camp at the same table
Getting up from the table immediately makes it pretty clear that you’re counting. But it also isn’t a good idea to play too long at one table. Remember, just because the boss gives you some heat doesn’t meet you are about to be given the back-off.
So what you need to do is strike a healthy balance. If you start to feel the heat, don’t panic. Play a few more hands, many even the remainder of the shoe. But if you stay too long using obvious blackjack tricks you are only giving the boss more time to scrutinize your behavior, making it painfully obvious you are counting.
So play out a few hands before taking a break or moving to another table. The boss probably doesn’t find you suspicious enough to follow you across the entire casino, so you can start counting anew somewhere. That is, until the heat starts coming on again…
Increase your betting spread once the heat is on
This is one of the stupidest things you can possibly do. The reason that the boss is watching you is precisely because you increased your bet significantly. This may or may not indicate that you are using a card counting strategy, so what matters is how you follow it up.
Many players bet progressively, meaning that they increase the amount bet after a string of winning hands. As the bankroll gets bigger, so do the bets. This won’t tip off a pit boss, unless the spread increases by a large amount.
So if you notice that the boss is watching you, you don’t necessarily have to resort to flat betting. But you at least need to use non-counting behavior. Even if you continue to count, don’t increase your bet significantly as the count rises. It’s a dead giveaway.
Follow this basic rule: the pit boss is on to you because your betting behavior doesn’t follow that of a basic strategy player. The best way to get him off your case is to start acting like a basic strategy player.